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Pinnacle CC’s Chase Turpin on hosting the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship since its inception

By |  September 28, 2023 0 Comments

Some might say Chase Turpin, director of Agronomy at Pinnacle CC in Rogers, Ark., and the LPGA Walmart NW Arkansas Championship are a package deal. Turpin began his tenure at Pinnacle in 2006, and the following year he and the team welcomed the well-known tournament to the course.

Graphic: Golfdom staff

Graphic: Golfdom staff

“We’ve kind of been a match the entire time we’ve been here,” he laughs. “We have a history together.”

Turpin is an Arkansas native who methodically found his way to the turfgrass department at the University of Arkansas. After graduation, he served as an assistant superintendent at a smaller course in Little Rock before his 15-year tour as assistant superintendent and later superintendent at Pinnacle. Pinnacle promoted him to director of agronomy in 2021.

“The ownership of the club was kind enough to give me an opportunity to do it,” he says.

Knowing the playbook

Much to the benefit of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, Turpin remains at Pinnacle, where, similar to his search for an academic major, he systematically prepares the course for the event.

“I’ve seen (the tournament) from its infancy, when it first started out as a smaller tour event,” he says. “Over the past 16 years, it has grown into one of the larger events on the tour with one of the most stable tournament sponsors you could ask for.”

This, for Turpin, is job security, and year after year he’s given the club and tournament his all.

Chase Turpin, director of agronomy at Pinnacle CC, is no stranger to the NW Arkansas Championship, serving on staff for the event since its inception. (Photo: Chase Turpin)

Chase Turpin, director of agronomy at Pinnacle CC, is no stranger to the NW Arkansas Championship, serving on staff for the event since its inception. (Photo: Chase Turpin)

“Without trying to sound too cliché, we try to maintain the property up to tournament standards on a daily basis for the membership,” he says. “Obviously, things happen more often and more frequently during the tournament week.”

Here is where Turpin’s attention to detail becomes his greatest asset.

“We may only mow fairways three or four times a week during (a normal) week — and all seven days during tournament week. We may only mow the greens once every day on a regular basis, they’ll get mowed three times (daily) during the tournament week, twice in the morning and once in the evening, so the practices stay the same,” he says as if reading from a well-aged playbook.

He continues, “They just occur more frequently and more often, which requires a few more bodies, a few more volunteers and just making sure that everybody is aware of their responsibility and where they need to be.”

Furthermore, knowing the regional climate is also to Turpin’s benefit considering the course hosted the tournament in June, July, August and September. This year it will stretch into October. He’s had no shortage of experience in testing the Tyee creeping bentgrass turf under varying climate conditions.

“In northwest Arkansas, we can get fairly cold in the wintertime and extremely hot in the summertime,” he says. “So, the transition zone we see ranges in temperature anywhere from minus 10 to 110 (degrees F). We have to make sure we’re on top of our moisture management during the summer months.”

Prepare for anything

Unsurprisingly, Turpin has a well-tested process utilizing 33 fans on the golf course to ensure enough air movement across the putting surface and eliminate any stagnant wet air sitting on the surface. He sends a few staffers out every morning to check moisture levels during the summer and track when to irrigate the greens or spot-treat them with hoses.

Depending on the forecast, Turpin says they can make it three to four days between irrigation cycles allowing them to do a deep, infrequent type irrigation cycle watering the entire profile at once. Then let it dry down uniformly as best it can before turning the irrigation on again.

Hosting a tournament means superintendents need to be ready for anything and everything says Chase Turpin of Pinnacle CC. (Photo: Chase Turpin)

Hosting a tournament means superintendents need to be ready for anything and everything says Chase Turpin of Pinnacle CC. (Photo: Chase Turpin)

Turpin’s acute attention to moisture management may have come from a baptism in 2007 when the tournament’s first year was rained out and ultimately canceled after just one round.

“It rained 7 inches that entire week,” he says. “The rain would stop and we’d get the course ready for the players and then another storm would hit … it kind of rinsed and repeated itself for five straight days.”

As for advice, Turpin would offer to other superintendents — staff accordingly, staff appropriately.

“As much as you want to have everything planned out for that week, wrenches will get thrown into the mix,” he says.

The veteran knows all too well that Mother Nature, staff no-shows, and random occurrences can present themselves before, during and after the tournament. Having a staff one can rely on and trust to make decisions without necessarily being instructed on how to do so is key.

“You’re going to feel like you get pulled in a thousand different directions at the same time and the best you can do is just take what’s in front of you and handle that situation accordingly, and then move on to the next one,” says Turpin. “Hopefully, you have people in place underneath you who can handle the other things while you’re taking care of what’s in front of you.”

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